For any college freshman, taking that first step into university living can be incredibly daunting. Between learning the lay of the land, making friends and figuring out course schedules, vast waves of new information can make any new student feel lost at sea. If university has taught me one thing, it’s that no matter how prepared you think you are, there’s always room for surprises. By following the following list of short tips and tricks, any incoming Stags can begin their college career on solid footing!
- Keep your doors open. One of the quickest and easiest ways to make friends during your first year is to simply keep your dorm room open. To put it simply, if your room’s door is closed, the chances of seeing any new faces is zero—by leaving your door open, the opportunity to meet a possible new friend is open as well. In my own experience, this small change made a massive difference — people would introduce themselves in passing, previously recognizable faces became more friendly, and sometimes someone would even pop their head in for a quick favor. Though I was a bit hesitant to try at first, this little experiment during my freshman year showed me that a large part of making new connections is simply effort.
- Don’t feel pressured to immediately declare a major. First-year students have been taught to enter college with a plan for academic success, and, for some of these students, this plan includes a declaration of a major. In these cases, many will choose a major for the sake of doing so, only to change their major again because of uninteresting or less challenging classes. Though there is much pressure and uncertainty in the decisions ahead, not declaring a major at first should be instead reframed as an opportunity to find what you’re really passionate about.
- Get to know your professors and academic advisor. Getting to know your professor further than the classroom setting or speaking often with your advisor can be incredibly helpful. As individuals who are knowledgeable and have real life experiences of their own, your professor can help you succeed academically and prepare for the next steps after college. It took me a few years to really learn that college is just about making connections, so building strong relations with someone like your professor or academic advisor could serve as invaluable mentorship.
- Organize your files. Though it sounds like a boring task, taking a bit of time to properly organize your files will pay off in the long run. I used to waste a lot of time digging through a pile of oddly named files, but streamlining my work with folders helped cut out the guesswork. Taking the time to get organized ultimately helped with keeping track of my classwork while also making it easier to do so.
- Get involved, but don’t go overboard. Putting in the effort to be active in Fairfield’s student life can have an incredible impact on the quality of your college experience — it’s an opportunity to make friends, build your resume, discover and cultivate interests, or it could simply be a way to reduce stress. First-year Stags who get involved can find a herd of their own, finding their own sense of belonging while adjusting to life at Fairfield.
There you have it, my top five suggestions for making your freshman year at Fairfield the best it can be. Everyone’s first year at university comes with its own challenges, just keep in mind that you’re ready for this!